Metro Water Murky Matters – Metro Water District -TucsonWeekly

 
” Metro Water Murky Matters ” – Metro Water District – Metro-Water-Tucson-Weekly Metro-Water-Murky-Matters – TucsonWeekly Article about Metro Water District Tucson – www.metrowatertucson.com. . . After nearly being electrocuted, a Metro Water employee is fired—and the risk-management specialist resigns in protest. www.metrowater

Metro Water Murky Matters 

As a fired electrician fights to get his job back, Metro Water increases its rates

By Albert Vetere Lannon

November 29, 2012

  • Albert Vetere Lannon
  • Metro Water electrician Donovan Hemway asks for protection at the Aug. 13 Metro Water board of directors meeting.

Metro Water TucsonWhen Metro Water District managers fired electrician Donovan Hemway after he was nearly electrocuted, they stirred up already murky waters—and several government investigations of Metro Water are under way, as Hemway fights to get his job back.

Speaking to the board of the water district—which serves about 50,000 people in the northwest, northeast and southwest areas of metro Tucson, according to its website—Hemway said on Aug. 13 that he was nearly electrocuted on May 10, when he became drenched while working in a live, 480-volt cabinet at Metro’s DeConcini well site. Hemway had worked for Metro for almost six years. (See “Sparks Flying,” Currents, Sept. 20.)

“I was nearly killed,” Hemway told the board then. Hemway had been ordered to do a pump-efficiency test. Now, Hemway is insistent about getting his job back.

Jessie Atencio, assistant director of the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health, wouldn’t comment about the division’s investigation.

Hemway said he has received confirmation that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division has begun a separate investigation of his termination, which occurred while he was on family and medical leave. The electrician’s charge of employment discrimination is pending at the state Attorney General’s Office, and an interview has been scheduled, he said.

Hemway’s first victory came when Metro Water, on the eve of a formal hearing, decided not to fight his workers’ compensation claim. The Industrial Commission of Arizona sent Hemway a letter notifying him that the Employers Compensation Insurance Co. had accepted his claim for compensation over job-caused medical issues.

Hemway sent the ICA a letter on Nov. 15 relaying reports from employees that a Metro Water supervisor was intimidating workers. Hemway charged that the supervisor told several people, including witnesses to the May 10 incident, that “if Mr. Hemway sues, there will be layoffs.”

The supervisor also reportedly made light of a 6-inch hose rupture as “just a pinhole leak,” despite company video showing Hemway drenched while near a live electrical connection. Hemway’s letter argued this showed “a pattern of unlawful disregard in a hostile work environment” that could lead to “stress claims and even a fatality.”

The company received the letter at 11:33 a.m. on Nov. 16, according to a delivery-confirmation service. Hemway claims that at 1:28 p.m. that day, he observed the supervisor in question driving slowly down his street.

While Hemway sees his battle with the company as David versus Goliath, the fallout may be affecting Metro Water in other ways. At a public hearing Oct. 22 on proposed rate increases, Metro customer David Tanner, a former company supervisor, asked a series of questions about Metro’s practices. According to the meeting minutes (posted on the Metro website, www.metrowater.com), one of the questions involved how much Metro was paying attorneys “to fight employees who complained about wage and hour law and job-safety violations.”

General manager Mark Stratton said the amount was not yet known. Board chairman Bryan Foulk denied any company wrongdoing, saying nothing was “being swept under the carpet.”

Another question from Tanner: “Is the rate increase needed so managers can continue to attend conferences at Whiskey Pete’s in Buffalo Bill’s Resort and Casino near Las Vegas?”

Stratton responded that the only manager who attended a conference there was deputy general manager Chris Hill. Hill was the person who initiated the change in a pump-testing procedure that almost killed Hemway when a hose ruptured, Hemway said. According to the conference prospectus, Hill was to teach a Sept. 25 class on “Reducing Risks and Costs.”

Tanner also asked about Foulk’s comments at a previous board meeting that debt service was “strangling the district.” Seventy-five percent of Metro’s annual income, $6.6 million, reportedly goes to debt service. Foulk said he was misquoted. His statement, however, remains in Metro Water’s approved board minutes from Aug. 13.

Another Metro customer, Annette Cline, sent an email to the board opposing the rate increase, adding, “I don’t really get the impression that my opinion as a longtime Metro customer really matters to the board of directors, anyway.” The Southern Arizona Home Builders Association wrote the board that any increase in connection fees “will adversely affect our builder members.”

The board dropped the proposed water-connection fee increase, but voted unanimously to raise the base rate by $2.50 a month; to increase water consumption charges by 4 percent; and to establish to a new water-resource-utilization fee of 10 cents per thousand gallons.

Metro Water customer Donovan Hemway, unemployed since his discharge from the company, will have to pay the new rates while he continues his battle to get his job back.

Read the previous article: http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/murky-matters/Content?oid=3587689

Metro Water Murky Matters – www.metrowatertucson.com

 

 

Metro Water District of Tucson has Sparks Flying

Metro Water . . . After nearly being electrocuted, a Metro Water employee is fired—and the risk-management specialist resigns in protest

Metro Water TucsonMetro Water District of Tucson has Sparks Flying as Electrician Donovan Hemway last month asked the board of directors of the Metro Water District for whistle-blower status to protect his job—and to investigate his near-electrocution.

He was fired the next day.

Metro’s risk-management specialist, Janet Gallup, then resigned in protest. A state investigation is now under way.

Speaking to the board of the water district—which serves about 50,000 people in the northwest, northeast and southwest areas of metro Tucson, according to its website—Hemway on Aug. 13 said he was nearly electrocuted on May 10, when he became drenched while working in a live, 480-volt cabinet at Metro’s DeConcini well site. A single father, Hemway had worked for Metro Water for almost six years.

“I was nearly killed,” Hemway told the board. “I have concern for the safety of my co-workers as well as my own.”

Hemway had been ordered to do a pump-efficiency test by deputy manager Chris Hill, and he believes that Hill’s change in normal test procedure is what triggered the accident.

This was not the deputy manager’s first possible misadventure. In an incident last year, Gallup said, she asked general manager Mark Stratton to discipline Hill for ordering employees to work in a trench that had not been shored up, a violation of safety rules.

Stratton responded that Gallup “was a cancer at Metro Water.”

Gallup, who was also Metro’s chief safety officer, said she was reprimanded for reporting to the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or ADOSH, that a contractor was forcing employees to work in unprotected trenches.

Hill was named Metro Water safety officer following Gallup’s resignation. The apparently close relationship between Stratton and Hill may stem from their eight-year business partnership in a private company, Agua Southwest LLC.

An ADOSH investigation of Hemway’s near-electrocution is under way. ADOSH’s Tucson office told the Tucson Weekly that it could not comment while an investigation is in progress.

Hemway claimed that supervisors on the scene failed to report the accident to the company’s risk-management officer. Gallup confirmed that and said that Hemway’s firing was “a major blow” to Metro Water after he “did so much to improve their electrical system.”

Insomnia has plagued Hemway since the near-electrocution and helped lead to threats of discipline for absenteeism, even as Metro’s employee-assistance program was reportedly recommending medical leave for him. Hemway had received only one disciplinary warning letter prior to the accident, but after it occurred, he received four more.

Stratton issued a written rebuttal to Hemway’s charges on Sept. 7, available online atwww.metrowater.com, for the Sept. 10 board meeting. Denying any violation of safety procedures, Stratton said Metro Water had acted “in an appropriate manner,” including requiring employee sign-off of a “hazard awareness form.”

Stratton wrote that a hose rupture involved with the accident occurred because a 200 PSI (pounds per square inch) hose had been replaced with a 50 PSI hose. How that happened is not explained. He also said that “corrective action” has been taken to avoid similar incidents, and that this change “eliminated the need to follow up.”

Stratton and Hill did not return the Weekly’s phone calls.

Metro Water‘s security and safety procedures involve the use of video cameras, and the entire incident was recorded. The original video, however, was lost, according to Stratton, and a second download came up four minutes short. Stratton said that the shortened version begins just before the hose rupture and shows Hemway wet.

The letter of termination from Stratton, received the day after the Aug. 13 board meeting, charged Hemway with “blatant disregard of policies” and “excessive absenteeism.” In his report to the board, Stratton added a charge of “continued insubordination.”

Gallup told the Weekly that Hemway “certainly has a valid stress claim” and that Metro Water was “trying to sweep it under the rug.”

Metro Water faces a $1.2 million deficit that board Chairman Bryan Foulk said is “strangling the district.”

Stratton’s response claims that management has been “professional” and that Hemway has no “substantive proof of any wrong-doing,” so no board action is required.

Gallup, who said she’d finally “had it” with Metro Water after six years, added: “When management isn’t following the rules, there is a big problem. I believe Metro Water has a duty to provide honesty, integrity and safety to its ratepayers and employees.”

Dave Devine contributed to this article,

Metro Water District of Tucson has Sparks Flying

http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/sparks-flying/Content?oid=3531049

http://www.metrowatertucson.com/Metrowatertucson/metro-water-district-of-tucson/

METRO-WATER-DISTRICT-OF-TUCSON

 

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Metro Water District has Sparks Flying -TucsonWeekly

Metro Water District – Metro-Water-Tucson-Weekly Sparks Flying – TucsonWeekly Article about Metro Water District Tucson – www.metrowatertucson.com. . . After nearly being electrocuted, a Metro Water employee is fired—and the risk-management specialist resigns in protest. www.metrowater

Metro Water District . . . After nearly being electrocuted, a Metro Water employee is fired—and the risk-management specialist resigns in protest

By

September 12, 2012

Metro Water DistrictMetro Water District of Tucson has Sparks Flying as Electrician Donovan Hemway last month asked the board of directors of the Metro Water District for whistle-blower status to protect his job—and to investigate his near-electrocution.

He was fired the next day.

Metro’s risk-management specialist, Janet Gallup, then resigned in protest. A state investigation is now under way.

Speaking to the board of the water district—which serves about 50,000 people in the northwest, northeast and southwest areas of metro Tucson, according to its website—Hemway on Aug. 13 said he was nearly electrocuted on May 10, when he became drenched while working in a live, 480-volt cabinet at Metro’s DeConcini well site. A single father, Hemway had worked for Metro Water District for almost six years.

“I was nearly killed,” Hemway told the board. “I have concern for the safety of my co-workers as well as my own.”

Hemway had been ordered to do a pump-efficiency test by deputy manager Chris Hill, and he believes that Hill’s change in normal test procedure is what triggered the accident.

This was not the deputy manager’s first possible misadventure. In an incident last year, Gallup said, she asked general manager Mark Stratton to discipline Hill for ordering employees to work in a trench that had not been shored up, a violation of safety rules.

Stratton responded that Gallup “was a cancer at Metro Water District.”

Gallup, who was also Metro’s chief safety officer, said she was reprimanded for reporting to the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or ADOSH, that a contractor was forcing employees to work in unprotected trenches.

Hill was named Metro Water District safety officer following Gallup’s resignation. The apparently close relationship between Stratton and Hill may stem from their eight-year business partnership in a private company, Agua Southwest LLC.

An ADOSH investigation of Hemway’s near-electrocution is under way. ADOSH’s Tucson office told the Tucson Weekly that it could not comment while an investigation is in progress.

Hemway claimed that supervisors on the scene failed to report the accident to the company’s risk-management officer. Gallup confirmed that and said that Hemway’s firing was “a major blow” to Metro Water District after he “did so much to improve their electrical system.”

Insomnia has plagued Hemway since the near-electrocution and helped lead to threats of discipline for absenteeism, even as Metro’s employee-assistance program was reportedly recommending medical leave for him. Hemway had received only one disciplinary warning letter prior to the accident, but after it occurred, he received four more.

Stratton issued a written rebuttal to Hemway’s charges on Sept. 7, available online at www.metrowater.com, for the Sept. 10 board meeting. Denying any violation of safety procedures, Stratton said Metro Water District  had acted “in an appropriate manner,” including requiring employee sign-off of a “hazard awareness form.”

Stratton wrote that a hose rupture involved with the accident occurred because a 200 PSI (pounds per square inch) hose had been replaced with a 50 PSI hose. How that happened is not explained. He also said that “corrective action” has been taken to avoid similar incidents, and that this change “eliminated the need to follow up.”

Stratton and Hill did not return the Weekly’s phone calls.

Metro Water District‘s security and safety procedures involve the use of video cameras, and the entire incident was recorded. The original video, however, was lost, according to Stratton, and a second download came up four minutes short. Stratton said that the shortened version begins just before the hose rupture and shows Hemway wet.

The letter of termination from Stratton, received the day after the Aug. 13 board meeting, charged Hemway with “blatant disregard of policies” and “excessive absenteeism.” In his report to the board, Stratton added a charge of “continued insubordination.”

Gallup told the Weekly that Hemway “certainly has a valid stress claim” and that Metro Water District was “trying to sweep it under the rug.”

Metro Water District faces a $1.2 million deficit that board Chairman Bryan Foulk said is “strangling the district.”

Stratton’s response claims that management has been “professional” and that Hemway has no “substantive proof of any wrong-doing,” so no board action is required.

Gallup, who said she’d finally “had it” with Metro Water District after six years, added: “When management isn’t following the rules, there is a big problem. I believe Metro Water District has a duty to provide honesty, integrity and safety to its ratepayers and employees.”

Dave Devine contributed to this article.

https://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/sparks-flying/Content?oid=3531049

Metro Water Sparks Flying – www.metrowatertucson.com